VEG OUT – Vegan Myths….Busted!

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THUNDER BAY – Whenever I tell someone I am Vegan, I always get a multitude of questions.   Being Vegan isn’t difficult.  There are many myths out there that can become barriers to making that choice.  Many myths depict the choice to be Vegan as unappealing.

So I will explore the most common myths about veganism and try to set them straight!

1. Veganism is a diet.
Veganism is not a diet.  The choice to be Vegan is a choice made to live a compassionate lifestyle.  I have always told people who are contemplating going Vegan, that the most important reason to do it is to live the value of compassion.   Once you go Vegan for that reason, then it is very difficult to go back to a lifestyle that will cause suffering for billions of living beings in this world.  Once you see what happens in a factory farm you will not crave those chicken wings!

2. Vegans don’t get enough protein or calcium
For most people, meat = protein, and milk = calcium.  But cows are vegan.  Horses are vegan.  Hippos are vegan.   They eat plant-based diets and grow strong muscles without meat and dairy in their diets. You are thinking, ‘Yeah, that’s right.  How can that be?’  This is because protein and calcium are found in plant foods.   Still can’t give up that glass of milk that you have been told to drink all your life?  Think of all the cultures that never consume dairy and don’t suffer from calcium deficiencies.  Far from it…they have the lowest rates of osteoporosis in the world.

3. Veganism is expensive.
As with anything, it depends on what you choose to eat.  Vegetables, grains and beans are much cheaper than cheese and meat.  Most of your food can be found at your supermarket.   The money that you will save on the meat you are not buying can go towards the little extra cost for non-dairy milk and non-dairy margarine.  Most importantly, you should see your body as an investment.  Those few extra dollars spent will be an investment in your health.

4.  Vegans eat “fake” meat and cheeses

What most people think are “fake” meats and cheeses are actually not “fake” meat and cheese.  Foods such as Tempeh and Seitan, which are high protein vegan foods that vegans prepare and eat as most people would eat meat, are not fake.  They are foods that have been around for centuries in many different cultures.   In the case of “fake” cheese, I make cheese out of nuts.  In this case, it is not “fake” cheese, as I am using nut milk as another cheese producer would use cow’s milk.  Milk is not a product that strictly come from cows.  Milk can be produced from soy, nuts, coconuts, etc.

5.  Humans are innately carnivores.

Humans may have begun as carnivores however, over time the human body has evolved.  Carnivores, such as lions, have fangs and claws which they need to tear apart the animals they have hunted.  Humans, over time, have developed small flat teeth and breakable fingernails which cannot rip apart the body of an animal.  Carnivores have short digestive tracts, whereas humans, similar to herbivores, such as cows, have long digestive tracts.

6. Vegans are unhealthy.
Anyone who eats an unbalanced diet can be unhealthy, and suffer from vitamin and mineral deficiencies.  Need proof that you can be healthy being a vegan, just take a look at Iron Man Brendan Brazier or UFC Fighter Mac Danzig.  Moreover, studies have shown that vegans have lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, lower rates of hypertension and Type 2 diabetes, lower body mass indexes, a lower rates of heart disease and cancer.

7. What about plants?  Aren’t they living things?  Don’t they feel pain too?
Yes, plants are living things, but they are not sentient beings.  Plants don’t have central nervous systems, nerve endings, or brains, which are required to feel pain.  Animal, on the other hand, show they feel pain by struggling to live when their life is being taken from them.

8. What’s wrong with milk? Cows have to be milked.

In order to produce a steady supply of milk, cows on dairy farms are artificially impregnated yearly. As with women, for a cow to produce milk, she must have a calf.  In nature, as with women, the milk produced is intended for her calf.  But on dairy farms, a calf never drinks its mother’s milk. Calves are taken from their mothers within a day or two after birth. The cow’s milk is intended to be sold for human consumption.

9. Vegans care more for animal suffering than human suffering. 
Vegans are concerned about animal welfare, but many vegans also know that the welfare of humans is among the reasons for being vegan.   Veganism is one of the significant ways to minimize global hunger.  Currently, large amounts of grain, soybeans, and corn are being used to feed all the animals we use for food instead of using them to feed starving humans.  Look at these facts: 6.6lbs of grain-fed to chickens produces 35.2 servings of meat, whereas 6.6lbs of grain-fed to chickens produces 84.5 servings of grain.  The world population is predicted to increase to 9.1 billion people by 2050.  The UN has stated: “Impacts from agriculture are expected to increase substantially due to population growth increasing consumption of animal products. Unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives: people have to eat. A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”  Moreover, animal agriculture is responsible for 70% of freshwater consumption, 19% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and 38% of land use.

10. Going vegan means taking away from your plate.
After going vegan, my world of food expanded immensely.  I began trying out vegetables that in the past I would ignore in the grocery store. Most people think that vegans live on salad. Yes, vegans eat a lot of vegetables, but there is much more to a vegan diet than salad. Vegans eat pasta, sandwiches, pancakes, ice cream, cakes, and more. As for your favourite foods….no fear, you can pretty much veganize most foods- french toast, lasagna, mac and cheese, etc.

So, there you have it, the 10 most common vegan myths you will encounter.  For those of you contemplating going vegan, I hope this helps in reducing any fears you have.  For those of you who are vegan, keep fighting the good fight!

Frances Talarico, VEG Thunder Bay

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